Katherine R. Willson of Dexter, Michigan is an engaging & dynamic genealogy lecturer at local, regional, and national conferences; an educator teaching beginning, intermediate, and advanced genealogy classes in Michigan since 2001; the author of The Genealogist’s Guide to Grand Rapids, Michigan (published in 2018 by The In-Depth Genealogist), and a professional researcher for private clients. Her research specialties include solving difficult genealogical problems in the Great Lakes region, as well as tracing westward migration from the Midwest.
Her genealogy interests began as an 8-year-old Junior Girl Scout working towards the now-retired “My Heritage” badge, and her passion was fueled when, after college, both her mother’s and father’s relatives gave her binders containing generations’ worth of family information. (Katherine is a 7th generation Michigander with pre-statehood ancestors arriving from New York in the early 1830s, with the Sample/Moore line settling in Oakland County and the Havens/Arnold line settling in Lenawee County.)
Her success in using Facebook to break down genealogical brick walls both personally and in her classroom inspired her to catalog 16,700+ Facebook genealogy links (updated January 2021). Additionally, she has compiled 190+ instructional genealogical channels on YouTube (updated February 2022), and 76 genealogy-related podcasts (updated February 2022).
Her passion for genealogy combined with practical and creative strategies keeps Katherine’s audience fully engaged and actively participating in her energetic and entertaining presentations. Participants leave with the tools necessary to do their own research, as well as the inspiration to do it!
Katherine’s past genealogical society positions have included:
- Virtual Genealogical Association – Founder/President (2018-2020)
- Michigan Genealogical Council – Vice-President (2016-2017) & President (2018-2019)
- Association of Professional Genealogists – Board of Directors (2018-2019)
- Federation of Genealogical Societies – Conference Publicity Chair (2019)
- Genealogical Speakers Guild – Secretary (2018-2019)
- Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh – Social Media Chair (2018-2019)
As an Army Reserve wife of 25+ years, Katherine has assisted military families as a Family Readiness Group Leader, an Army Family Programs volunteer, and a member of the Department of Defense’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) Cadre of Speakers. In those positions, she traveled to events around the country, providing resources and support to military members and their loved ones within the stages of pre-deployment, during deployment, and post-deployment.
In addition to her passion for genealogy and assisting military families, she enjoys creating mixed-media art and served for 10 years as a board member for the Huron River Art Collective (formerly Ann Arbor Women Artists), serving as President from 2009-2013; Vice-President & Chair of Juried Exhibits Committee, 2007-2009; and Treasurer, 2003-2007.